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Interview with Mikhail Solodovnikov of RTR Russian Television

Evan Feigenbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs
Washington, DC
May 11, 2007

QUESTION: So, there is a loud and an emotional discussion in Poland by the Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Georgia have talks about the future energy policy. A part of the discussion is the sources are coming up from the Caspian Sea, oil and the gas. What kind of suggestions, America has to those who met in Poland?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FEIGENBAUM: I・m not responsible for Poland policy, Azerbaijan policy, or Georgia policy. I・m responsible for Central Asia policy. And obviously, energy is an important part of our policy there.

It・s very simple. We think there is increasing energy demand globally. We think this is something that a lot of countries share, including the United States, Europe, others. And we think Central Asia・s supply can be an important part of the global energy picture.

So our energy policy is very simple. We want to work with the countries of the region to help them bring their natural resources to the market, and we want to do that in a way that creates some diverse options, and that really allows the market to determine where energy flows.

QUESTION: Is it a chance for diversification of the oil and gas market at building an alternative pipeline other than the one Russia suggested, which will go by earth, or the one as the ah, those who met on a summit, suggesting which will go underwater?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FEIGENBAUM: No, we・re not interested in bypassing Russia. In fact the United States has been an advocate of expanding the CPCx pipeline for quite some time, and we・ve sought to work with Russia and others on CPC expansion.

You know there・s a history of the United States also working with the private sector and countries in the region on other pipelines, such as the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline. There・s a lot of oil, for instance, that・s going to come on-line in Kazakhstan in the next few years and that oil needs somewhere to go. And without CPC expansion we think more routes of supply will be a good thing for the global market. Ultimately, they・re a good thing for Russia, they・re a good thing for everyone.

QUESTION: What will be the best for the West in that case? I mean the one which will go via Russia and the one that will avoid Russia? What is the U.S. interest in the Caspian region?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FEIGENBAUM: I think that・s the wrong question to ask. What・s good for the United States is what・s good for global energy supply and global energy security. So as I said, our policy is very simple: We want to work with the countries of the region to help them bring their resources to market. We don・t, in general, think that monopolies are a good thing. So that・s what we・ve tried to do for over ten years now, and that・s what we・re continuing to try to do.

This, by the way, is part of our relationship with Kazakhstan. It・s one part. It・s an important part but it・s not the only part. As you may know, Foreign Minister Tazhin of Kazakhstan just came to Washington for his first visit here as Foreign Minister, although not his first visit ever. He・s an old friend of the United States. And it was a very good visit. It reflects the very strong strategic partnership that we have with Kazakhstan. And as I said, that・s a multi-dimensional partnership. We work together on energy but we also work on security cooperation, economic development. We work together to promote democracy and human rights in that country. We work on nuclear non-proliferation. We do a lot of things together. That・s why we・re strategic partners, and it was a very successful visit for the Minister.

QUESTION: The very last question, we have a minute. There was statement by the press office of the President that President Bush called Mr. Putin, who was in Astana at the moment, that happened yesterday. Does that say to the East and to Russia that the United States is paying attention of what・s going on in the Caspian energy market?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FEIGENBAUM: Well, it・s logical that we pay attention to what happens in the Caspian energy market for all of the reasons that I just said to you. We think developments in the Caspian are going to be important to Russia, they・re going to be important to Europe, they・re important to all countries that have an interest in global energy supply and global energy security. And we think that・s an important shared interest between the United States and Russia as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.


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